At first glance, the University of Michigan’s Department of Dance seems to be nothing more than a nondescript building. Tucked away in a small, semi-residential cul-de-sac in a corner of campus, our building’s brick façade is marked only by a small bulletin board and an even smaller blue sign. Our department spans just one hallway, peppered by open doors and illuminated by florescent lights, leading the way to each of our four studios.
That hallway is home.
At any given time, there are students talking, snacking, napping, or working before class and between rehearsals. Faces that are more than familiar: they are family. Faces that have seen you at your very worst, covered in sweat and tears and occasionally blood. Faces that have seen you under pounds of stage make up and none at all, faces that have seen you succeed and fall flat on your back. Faces that change the way you dance, the way you think, the way you live your life.
The way the carpet feels under your socked feet beings to feel familiar. The way the space between the walls fills to the bring and empties again like clock work. The way you feel when you leave for the summer, the way you feel when you walk back through the doors at the beginning of each year. Dancing in college means finding a home.
To say that I was unprepared to be a dance major when I arrived on campus freshman year is a gross understatement. At surface-level, a dance major dancers. I was expecting hours and hours spent in class and late night rehearsals. I knew my muscles were going to be so sore it was hard to climb up the stairs to my dorm room. I anticipated blisters and bruises and bleeding.
I was not prepared to fall in love with the community I was fortunate enough to find in my small 16 person class. I didn’t realize the extent to which I would be inspired each and every day by their work ethic, imagination, and virtuosity. I did not expect to find a family, one that was made just for me.
As with any family, we are incredibly dysfunctional. We laugh as well as cry, fight for each other just as we fight with one another. And yet, we are inextricably joined together by a single hallway, and a single passion.